Monday, November 18, 2013

Fractions, Fractions, Fractions, and Lessons Learned

This last week we spent working on fractions, fractions, and more fractions!

I started the week by looking for a great project that I could use as a "review" for my students, since their fraction test was on Thursday.  As many of you who are regular readers of my blog know, I don't teach any test formatted questions and we don't do any worksheets.  So I needed to find something great.

After a little searching I found a project online called "Let's Get Cooking!".  It looked awesome, so we jumped right into it on Monday.  Man did I learn something....

So the project covers a very real life example.  The students are planning a party for 30. They have three recipes (one for Chocolate Chip Cookies, one for Sugar Cookies, and one for Banana Bread).  Each recipe though doesn't serve 30 people so they have to do lots of conversions. Then they have to figure out how much total supplies they need to buy at the store, and then they're told some of the supplies they already have in the pantry so they have to take that out of what they "need".  It's awesome and so applicable to real life (plus they're super excited about me bringing the desserts later to try from the real life recipes)

What I love about this project is that it covers everything we need in 5th grade math for Texas (and even a little things that aren't necessarily needed)  It covered simplifying, converting, adding, subtracting, and even cutting fractions in half (which isn't a 5th grade standard).

But I mentioned earlier that I learned something.  What did I learn?  Well on the surface this project looks rather simplistic.  After getting started with my first group, I quickly learned that I know how to teach fractions, but I only understood and knew how to teach fractions to get them to do well on our state test.  I actually, as an adult, didn't fully understand fractions well enough to work with them in a real life scenario!  WOW!  That was eye opening for me.  So what happened?  The students and I learned together how to work with converting some of the recipes.  But it was such a cool experience to have that learning opportunity WITH my students. And it was yet another reminder to them, that I'm not all knowing.  I'm not perfect.  But that's why we're at school, to learn and get better!

I had hoped to get the project done before the test on Friday....well of course that didn't happen.  We got pretty far, but as of today (Monday), a week later, we're still working on it with a closing due date of tomorrow (Tuesday).

But the work on the project was TREMENDOUS!  And my students actually did really well on their exam!  I always feel so proud of my kiddos when we take district exams and my students perform at the same level, if not sometimes above the other four elementary schools.  Why does that make me so proud?  Because we're working so hard to prove that you don't have to drill and kill worksheets and cover test strategies to be successful on an exam!  If you just teach the knowledge and have fun learning, the testing part comes easy!  It's a lot of work yes, but it's so much more fun!